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Friday, September 26, 2008

Irony alert: University Founded by Free Speech Advocate Punishes Prof for Criticizing Racial Slur in Class

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You read it right. Brandeis University, named for Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis,  has reprimanded Donald Hindley for pointing out that the term "wet-back" was (and is) a perjorative term for Mexican immigrants. Hindley uttered the horrible word in his class on Latin American Politics. Ostensibly Hindley was criticizing the slur. However, an anonymous student complained and Hindley was accused of causing "emotional distress" to students by mentioning (again not using) the term.

It was determined that Hindley used discriminatory and defamatory language. His class was assigned a monitor and he was ordered to take a sensitivity training course. Hindley, as a sane man, refused.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has taken up the case. FIRE has written to 45 members of the Brandeis' board of trustees. They have recieved one reply. Free Speech crusader Nat Hentoff author of "Free Speech for Me and Not for Thee," personally called the president of the university:

"I left a message for Brandeis University President Jehuda Reinharz (781-736-3001) asking for his response. My call has not been returned. If Louis Brandeis were still here, I am sure he would call Reinharz instantly - and would get a response. How I would like to hear that conversation!"

Me too. Hentoff concludes his article on Worldnet daily with a quote from the justice who is the  namesake of Brandeis university , "It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears." Hentoff adds, "And from undereducated college administrators?"

It is my observation that universities like to do these sort of things in the dark. The only remedy is sunlight. Let everyone know what Brandeis is doing.

Posted by Jay Lafayette on September 26, 2008 | Permalink

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Comments

Geez, imagine what would have happened if he called them spics or beaners. Funny thing is that during the 1950's the US government had an INS program to deport illegal Mexicans called Operation Wetback.

Posted by: The Stig | 2008-09-26 11:13:48 AM


Find this student and tell him he's as ugly as a hacked arse. His skin sounds like it could use some toughening. A few lashings might help there too. To take offence because someone expresses support for your own idea is beyond insane.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-09-26 11:15:26 AM


It's like modern liberalism is a snake eating its own tail.

"X is a racist term! Don't say it!"

"But you just said X, you big bad racist!"

Some day, when the world is overrun with leftists, they won't have anything to talk about because all relevant terms of debate will be cordoned off behind a wall of political correctness.

Well, most of the relevant terms will be cordoned off. The others will consist of meaningless bromides ("I'm for social justice!") and unquestioned assumptions ("The government can do anything!")

Then, while they're standing around in awkward silence, a group of religious fanatics will slaughter them all. The last words on their lips will be directed, not toward the fanatics, but toward the intolerant ethnocentrics who dared to pass moral judgment on the folks cutting their throats.

Wow, felt good to get that off my chest. :-)

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2008-09-26 11:29:16 AM


No way my kids are going to university in this environment. Trades rule!

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-09-26 11:42:38 AM


I wonder why this brings to mind Mao's culture revolution.

Posted by: Alain | 2008-09-26 11:47:23 AM


Terrence,

This case is clearly beyond insane. It is self-parodyingly insane in the worst possible way. But before you get to caught up in a "leftist" rant, remember that in the last century in the US it is the "leftist" ACLU that has been the most strong and consistent voice defending free speech, even as conservatives have condemned them for defending the speech of unsavory characters (like Nazis, pornographers, and pedophiles). And also remember thst it is typically conservatives who most strongly oppose allowing words like "fuck" to be said on commercial television and want to sue when their poor child is exposed to a fleeting image of Janet Jackson's nipple. It is "leftists" who typically roll their eyes at such puritanical censorship.

After all, it is the more conservative US that has much more strict rules about what can be said on commerical TV than "leftist" Canada. I always find it funny that even "The Daily Show", a cable show in the US, has to be censored, yet the Canadian station that shows it showed "South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut" uncensored in the same time slot, including the song "Uncle Fucker" ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfilR67QAIE ).

There are "leftist" censors and there are conservative censors. The impulse to censorship is a more general problem than some tired left-right divide. But insofar as such a divide exists at all, both sides have their censor-happy black sheep.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-09-26 11:57:20 AM


Hah. Fact Check compares a conservative wish to prevent their children from becoming potty-mouthed to the liberal's tyrannical efforts to convert English into Newspeak via speech codes, particularly on universities, which are as Left as it gets, in both countries. Also a shot at the Americans in there; what a surprise, that. Only a blatant Leftist apologist would even attempt to make such a comparison. And his post started off so well, calling this spade a bloody shovel as it deserved. Oh well.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2008-09-26 12:07:37 PM


Yeah right FC, the ACLU founded by communists continues to follow its original goal of the destruction of American society. No surprise that they are quiet selective in which "free speech" they defend.

Posted by: Alain | 2008-09-26 12:11:31 PM


Fact Check,

Fair enough about the ACLU. I actually like most of the work they do, unlike some people (Jaws, Jay and I praise them on the radio on a regular basis.)

It's true that conservatives have defended censorship, although the WAY in which they've tried to do so is interesting. Rightly or wrongly, conservatives (especially in the U.S.) will try to suppress some form of speech by essentially defining it as non-speech (I believe this is how obscenity law has worked in America.) They accept the underlying principle of freedom of speech but hold that it is consistent to with that principle to, say, suppress pornography.

While I think trying to say that pornography can't be speech is a little ridiculous, the conservative strategy at least makes sense to me. Not so for the liberal censorship strategy.

As I understand it, liberals accept both the principle of freedom of speech AND accept the idea that pornography, obscenity, etc. are speech acts and are deserving of protection under that principle. In fact, they define speech so broadly that it covers many different forms of expression, from porn, to flag burning, to publishing the plans for an atomic bomb on the Internet.

Fair enough. But therein lies the tension. The word "wetback" said in a university class is definitely speech -- it's more obviously speech than pornography is. So if pornography is protected, surely saying that word must be, along with other more obvious forms of hate speech.

The conservative has a reason not to extend freedom of speech to pornography (e.g. it's not really speech at all.) The liberal does not, as far as I can tell, have a similar kind of reason. They admit hate speech is speech, but think it ought to be suppressed anyway (perhaps for reasons of social utility.) But that just shows they don't really believe in the principle of free speech at all.

Does that make sense? The conservative position is at least coherent -- although, of course, coherence isn't everything. But the liberal position seems simply absurd.

Best,

Terrence

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2008-09-26 12:19:44 PM


The ACLU is becoming very selective about what it considers "free" speech.

by WENDY KAMINER
Wednesday, May 23, 2007 12:01 A.M. EDT

"One of the clearest indications of a retreat from defending all speech regardless of content is the ACLU's virtual silence in Harper v. Poway, an important federal case involving a high-school student's right to wear a T-shirt condemning homosexuality...

So in 2004, when Tyler Chase Harper was disciplined for wearing a T-shirt declaring his religious objections to homosexuality, civil libertarians might have expected the ACLU to protest loudly. Mr. Harper was barred from attending classes when he wore the antigay T-shirt to school on an official "Day of Silence," when gay students taped their mouths to symbolize the silencing effect of intolerance. Represented by the Alliance Defense Fund, he sued the school district. That same year, the ACLU initiated the first of two actions against a Missouri school that punished students for wearing "gay supportive T-shirts," eventually securing a promise from the school to "stop censoring," the ACLU Web site boasts. Mr. Harper, however, was unsuccessful in his quest to stop school censorship. In a patronizing, antilibertarian decision in which Judge Stephen Reinhardt stressed the imagined feelings of gay students, the Ninth Circuit rejected Mr. Harper's First Amendment claims...

the ACLU tends to absent itself from cases on college campuses involving the associational rights of Christian student groups to discriminate against gay students, in accordance with their religious beliefs. But conservative students might be grateful for the ACLU's absence. Consider its intervention in a successful federal court challenge to an unconstitutional speech code at Georgia Tech, brought by the Alliance Defense Fund in 2006 on behalf of two conservative religious students. The ACLU of Georgia filed an amicus brief proposing a substitute but still overbroad "antiharassment" policy that included a prohibition on "injurious communications . . . directed toward an individual because of their characteristics or beliefs." In other words: Students should be punished for sharply criticizing or satirizing each other's beliefs if their remarks are deemed "injurious."...

The ACLU was even AWOL in one of the most visible and frightening free-speech controversies in recent years--the Muhammad cartoons, which many condemned as "hate speech." When Muslim groups violently protested the cartoons (first published in the Danish press), when American newspapers declined to publish them for fear of reprisals, and when the U.S. State Department condemned their publication--the ACLU exercised its right to remain silent. In fact, its press office actually advised ducking questions about the cartoons that might arise during discussions of torture at Abu Ghraib...

Liberal sympathy for restricting hate speech may also explain the failure of the New York Civil Liberties Union to oppose the New York City Council's recent, symbolic moratorium on use of the n-word. NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman justified her silence to the New York Times, explaining that, "The Council is entitled to a point of view. It would be an entirely different matter if the Council was considering a law to ban use of the n-word."...

Finally, the ACLU has affirmatively supported legislative restrictions on speech it does not like, even when it is clearly political. Last March, the ACLU announced its support for a bill introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D., N.Y.) aimed at barring antiabortion centers from advertising "abortion counseling" services.

This is not the same organization that once took pride in its costly, principled decision to defend the rights of neo-Nazis to march in a community of Holocaust survivors in Skokie, Ill."

Posted by: DJ | 2008-09-26 12:21:57 PM


DJ,
It is for double-standards like this that Nat Hentoff castigate the ACLU in recent years. Anyone who's interested can check out his bio on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nat_Hentoff
He consistently supports free speech even when its against his fellow 60's lefties

Posted by: Jay Lafayette | 2008-09-26 12:32:35 PM


Terrence,

I agree with much of what you say there. Let me add these thoughts.

I notice you picked on pornography, not the defence of Nazis or pedophiles. The ACLU started by defending what was clearly speech by Nazis (spoken and written words). Their defense of NAMBLA was also a case of defending what clearly was speech (written words). Both those cases are ones conservatives have criticized without claiming that the "speech" in question is not speech. Similarly for communist speech in the McCarthy era.

Feminists of the most "leftist" sort have also tried the "pornography is not speech" line to try to limit it. So that is as much a "leftist" argument as it is a conservative one.

When I mentioned pornogrpahy before I was actually thinking of Hustler Magazine v. Falwell ( http://medialibel.org/imgd/falwell.jpg ), a case of what is clearly speech by a pornographer being opposed by conservatives not because it is somehow not speech, but because it is "bad" speech.

"As I understand it, liberals accept both the principle of freedom of speech AND accept the idea that pornography, obscenity, etc. are speech acts and are deserving of protection under that principle. In fact, they define speech so broadly that it covers many different forms of expression, from porn, to flag burning, to publishing the plans for an atomic bomb on the Internet."

Yes. Which is why any liberals who agree with the Brandeis decision are hopelessly confused. But there are many liberals who think that decisions like the Brandeis one are absurd, for the very reason you cite about the traditional liberal view of free speech.

Where these liberals who support decisions like the Brandeis one think they are *not* hoplessly confused is not in describing such cases as not speech, but in trying to describe it as not *merely* speech. So, they will say, yelling "fire!" in a crowded theatre that is not on fire is speech, but not *merely* speech. It also is the reckless endangerment of the physical well being of the crowd. Thus, they will argue, saying the word "wetback" within earshot of a Mexican-American (whether the word is used or mentioned) is not *merely* speech. It also is potentially psychologically devastating. In this case it was claimed that some students suffered "significant emotional trauma".

The "some speech is not *merely* speech" argument is tricky, because sometimes we do agree with it. The shouting "fire!" case, perjury, conspiracy to comit murder, treason, and other cases are examples of speech that is not merely speech and speech that even most free speech defenders think can be justifiably limited. I have no doubt that in the Brandeis case the "this is not *merely* speech" argument is bogus, just as that argument was bogus against MacLean's magazine. But just as I can see what conservatives and feminists mean when they try to argue that pornography is not speech while disagreeing with them strongly, I can see what these censoring liberals mean when they say this speech is not *merely* speech also while disagreeing with them strongly.

The conservative position about censoring speech on television or Nazi speech or pedophile's speech etc., however, is only coherent if they, too, adopt a "some speech is not *merely* speech" position. Again, censors from all political directions share more qualities than they don't, thus a left-right divide is somewhat artificial here.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-09-26 12:55:34 PM


Fact Check,

I agree that the left-right divide is somewhat artificial on this issue. I should be more precise with my terms, although I'm not exactly sure how. Again, I wasn't criticizing the ACLU; they're not the people I had in mind, anyway.

There seem to be at least two popular ways to advocate restrictions on speech. The first way is to say that the speech in question is not really speech, and that therefore its suppression is not really censorship. I think this was at one time the justification for a ban on flag burning, and I know it came into play in Cohen v. California (where it was rejected, fortunately.)

The other way -- call it the Canadian way, because that's where it occurs in a systematic form -- upholds the principle of free speech, but subjects it to "reasonable limits." Those limits take into account the consequences of allowing the speech, versus the consequences of restricting it. When the Canadian courts upheld Section 13, didn't they use reasoning of this kind (noting that Section 1 of the Charter allows them to engage in such a balancing test)?

Both these arguments are more coherent than I initially stated. The difference, as I see it, is that the second doesn't really take freedom of speech seriously as a principle -- as a right. Rights, as I understand them, shouldn't be subject to balancing tests regarding social consequences.

You're right that both conservatives and liberals are guilty in this regard. Liberals do seem to take rights -- especially this one -- more seriously in other contexts, though, so I find their willingness to employ balancing tests about speech somewhat perplexing (is the freedom of an artist who send ups up Christianity ever subject to a balancing test of this kind?)

Bah, I've got to get going. Thanks for the discussion, though. Hopefully I wasn't too incoherent (I started to hurry when I realized the time... grr!)

Terrence

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2008-09-26 1:26:39 PM


Terrence,

When you get back .... :-)

"There seem to be at least two popular ways to advocate restrictions on speech. The first way is to say that the speech in question is not really speech, and that therefore its suppression is not really censorship."

Yes. This the path that Christian conservatives and many radical femisists both take in opposing pornography. And they are both wrong.


"The other way ... upholds the principle of free speech, but subjects it to 'reasonable limits.' Those limits take into account the consequences of allowing the speech, versus the consequences of restricting it."

Yes. This is the path taken by conservatives that don't want the word "fuck" allowed on commercial television and by liberals who don't want black people to be hurt by hearing the word "nigger". And they are both wrong.

BUT (and this is a big but) in this case they are wrong not because, as you suggest, their position "doesn't really take freedom of speech seriously as a principle". This is because these censors are applying the same test we apply when we agree that shouting "fire!", perjury, conspiracy to comit murder, treason, and other examples of speech *CAN* be legally prohibited. As I said before, *ALL* Free Speech advocates (well, almost all anyway) agree that there *ARE* reasonable limits because some speech is not *merely* speech.

The error of these censors is not in applying a test to speech that does not take free speech seriously, it is that they apply the test too broadly. Free speech advocates will almost universally agree that perjury laws are a reasonable limit on free speech. But only the most unreasonable ones will extend such limits to the "hurt" that is caused by hearing "fuck" on television or hearing "nigger".


"Is the freedom of an artist who send ups up Christianity ever subject to a balancing test of this kind?"

In Italy, yes, Christofascism is alive and well. As I posted a couple of weeks ago here, this was in the recent news:

==============================

Comedian who satirised Pope could face prosecution

Italian politicians of right and left, comedians and even some priests yesterday deplored a move by prosecutors in Rome to put a satirist on trial for contempt of the Pope.

Sabina Guzzanti, known for her take-offs of the prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, risks being jailed for up to five years. The prosecutors recommended to the justice ministry that she be indicted because of a speech she made to a leftwing rally in July.

Referring to the attitude to gay people of the Catholic church and Pope Benedict - the former cardinal Joseph Ratzinger - Guzzanti said: "In 20 years Ratzinger will be dead and will end up in hell, tormented by queer demons - not passive ones, but very active ones."

The 1929 Lateran treaty that created the Vatican city state describes the Pope as a "sacred and inviolable person". It makes insulting him an offence in Italy on a par with contempt for Italy's president, punishable by between one and five years in jail.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/sep/12/italy.catholicism

==============================

It seems that as a result of the international outrage over this story that the Italian justice ministry decided not to prosecute.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-09-26 1:56:13 PM


FC

"This case is clearly beyond insane. It is self-parodyingly insane in the worst possible way. But before you get to caught up in a "leftist" rant, remember that in the last century in the US it is the "leftist" ACLU that has been the most strong and consistent voice defending free speech, even as conservatives have condemned them for defending the speech of unsavory characters (like Nazis, pornographers, and pedophiles). And also remember thst it is typically conservatives who most strongly oppose allowing words like "fuck" to be said on commercial television and want to sue when their poor child is exposed to a fleeting image of Janet Jackson's nipple. It is "leftists" who typically roll their eyes at such puritanical censorship."

Given your soliloguy, shouldn't that last attempt at misdirection read

"It WAS "leftists" who typically rollED their eyes at such puritanical censorship."

Today, of course, they roll their eyes at the thought of "group differences", anthropogenic global warming is NOT SETTLED, etc.

Actually, they do not really roll their eyes. They threaten PURITANICAL revenge like "burning your career at the stake", "inquisition before human right councils", etc.

Keep trying. Some day you may find liberty before tyranny finds you.

Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-09-26 11:57:21 PM


H2o27kk9, it seems that FC suffers from lack of traffic on his own blog and thinks we could benefit from his useless pontifications. His comments only confirm how out of touch and lost the leftist are, so I usually just skip over them.

Posted by: Alain | 2008-09-27 8:57:29 PM


I despise censorship of all stripes, FC, but I think that you need to consider the matter within the context of the relative importance of the things involved. Conservative censors usually want to stop people from shouting four letter words on television at 6PM or the distribution of fetish pornography in elementary school libraries - liberal censors typically want to suppress ideas that they disagree with.

Posted by: Adam Yoshida | 2008-09-27 9:19:55 PM


Adam,

You can try to make this a left-right issue, but you will fail. You wrote: "Conservative censors usually want to stop people from shouting four letter words on television at 6PM or the distribution of fetish pornography in elementary school libraries".

As I noted, many radical feminists share the desire to censor pornography, so there is no left-right difference there.


"liberal censors typically want to suppress ideas that they disagree with."

Not true in two ways. First, the sort of censorship you are referring to is one that both some liberals and some conservatives support. Remember it was the conservative government in Alberta that brought in the speach restrictions there and both the conservative governments in Alberta and federally have intervened in support of complainants in hate speech cases. Also, it was the conservative Saskatchewan Party that decided to re-try David Ahenakew. Some liberals support hate speech laws, some oppose them. Some conservatives support them, and some oppose them. So again, there is no left-right difference here.

The second way you are wrong is in stating that it is the *intent* of these censors to supress ideas. Not true. Just as some believe that hearing the word "fuck" can somehow magically cause harm, some people believe hearing expressions of hatred can cause harm. Saying "nigger" to a black person or "I hope you get AIDS and die" to a gay person or calling Jews a "disease" can cause harm, and so should be stopped. Now the *effect* of hate speech laws is that they do supress ideas, but it is not their intent. (It also should be pointed out that supressing written pornography also supresses ideas.)

And as a final thought on censoring words like "fuck" from TV, I turn you over to the late great George Carlin. He was arrested in 1972 for doing his seven words you can't say on TV routine. The cop who arrested him was mad because his 9-year-old son was there for the show and heard the routine. Carlin was asked if he would have done the routine if he had known kids were there. He said, "I wouldn't have changed anything I did if I had known there were children in the audience. I think children need to hear those words the most because as yet they don't have the hang-ups. It's adults who are locked into certain thought patterns." Right on, George! Censoring the word "fuck" is censoring an idea to - the idea that words do not have "magical powers" to hurt just by hearing them.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-09-27 11:28:52 PM


Interesting to note how the word "fuck" is denigrated as magical (how can it possibly cause harm?) but the word "nigger" is definitely harmful and "so should be stopped".

A little parody maestro please:

And as a final thought on censoring words like "nigger" from TV, I turn you over to the late great George Carlin. He was arrested in 1972 for doing his seven words you can't say on TV routine. The cop who arrested him was mad because his 9-year-old black son was there for the show and heard the routine. Carlin was asked if he would have done the routine if he had known black kids were there. He said, "I wouldn't have changed anything I did if I had known there were black children in the audience. I think children need to hear those words the most because as yet they don't have the hang-ups. It's adults who are locked into certain thought patterns." Right on, George! Censoring the word "nigger" is censoring an idea to - the idea that words do not have "magical powers" to hurt just by hearing them."

Of course "nigger" was not one of Carlin's "Seven" words, because only "racist (another "magical" word) assholes" would use the word "nigger".

It's amazing how stupid people really are.

http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=JZCS5I80X-8

Posted by: DJ | 2008-09-28 1:48:00 AM


DJ,

"Interesting to note how the word 'fuck' is denigrated as magical (how can it possibly cause harm?) but the word 'nigger' is definitely harmful and 'so should be stopped'."

Yes indeed, which is why there have been some black leaders who have said that the word is not only acceptable to use, but that using it is important. Just as homosexuals changed the perception of the word "queer" from a magical to an ordinary one, refusing to accept the "magical powers" of "nigger" has been recommended by some blacks. For the ubernerds and people with kids, it's an argument well represented by Dumbledore when he encourages Harry Potter to use the name "Voldemort" rather than the more common reference "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named".

I'd have loved to have seen a routine by Carlin with him doing for racist epithets what he did for shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits. Alas, it was not to be.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-09-28 7:00:49 AM


Hey FC,

Sorry it's taken so long to get back to you. I've been ill recently.

You're right that people on either side of the political divide avail themselves of the two strategies of justifying restrictions on speech. Radical feminists in particular have attempted to classify pornography as an act of violence against women, one that should be regulated like any other violent activity (and hence not viewed as speech.)

(How in the world did I forget about the radical feminists in my initial comment?)

But there is one point I wanted to make about the strategy that subjects speech to "reasonable limits."

The point is this: when it comes time to specify the reasonable limits, this is going to be done by politicians and judges. Both groups are susceptible to certain incentives that will have an impact on the calculus they employ; in a wide range of cases, neither can be trusted to judge the consequences of allowing certain kinds of speech from an impartial standpoint (in my view, anyway.)

There is something inherently unstable about the position that tries to sweep some speech under the table by defining it as non-speech. It is difficult to make a credible argument in that direction.

Arguably, this is why American jurisprudence has moved toward a more liberal (in the good sense) position on speech over time: trying to publicly justify censorship on the grounds that it isn't really censorship makes one look ridiculous after a while. Eventually, the "true" principle of free speech wins out.

In contrast, the "reasonable limits" view does not have this virtue. Depending on how one spins the calculus, virtually any restriction can look reasonable. Of course, you are correct that some restrictions really are reasonable; but others will merely look reasonable to certain groups of people (e.g. religious minorities) who are able to exert disproportionate pressure on politicians.

This is what I meant when I said that the "reasonable limits" view does not take freedom of speech seriously as a principle: by subjecting freedom of speech to a social calculus that is prone to distortion and abuse, one inevitably ends up restriction speech more than it should be restricted.

The principle can only be bent so far before it breaks and ceases to be a credible barrier to wholesale censorship on behalf of whatever faction can muster enough (temporary) political support.

Perhaps this is what has taken place in Canada.

Best,

Terrence

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2008-09-29 9:27:08 AM


Terrence,

I still think you are mistaken about characterizing the "reasonable limits" test as more Canadian than American or as something that can be avoided. Maybe the term "reasonable limits" is specifically Canadian, but it is what American's do too.

Take perjury. Suppose someone, convicted of perjury, were to object to the constitutionality of the law because it is a limitation on free speech. Surely a US court would agree that this is a law that does place a restriction on speech and surely they would rule that the law is nevertheless constitutional. The only way to get to that conclusion is to say that there are reasonable limits to free speech. I don't think this is a failure to take free speech seriously. Rather, it is the virtue of recognizing that free speech is not the only important consideration.

Now if you want to say that the "reasonable limit" test has been used to allow a lot more restrictions on speech in Canada than in the US and that this is problematic, I would agree with you. But it is also worth remembering that the US has been pretty good in the past at limiting free speech despite the constitutional protection of it. Anthony Lewis documents this well in his book "Freedom for the Thought That We Hate: A Biography of the First Amendment". He also argues that in the US it could come to pass that greater restrictions on speech could result from a change again in how the first amendment is viewed, and so Americans must remain vigilant against this happening. This is because what seems to be an unreasonable limit today could well look reasonable to others tomorrow.

Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-09-29 10:11:08 AM



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